Seculars protest in Dhaka, Bangladesh, over the killing (BDNews24)
A Bangladeshi blogger and secular activist who was hacked to death on Tuesday would still be alive if Sweden had not blocked his planned visit to Stockholm this month to celebrate World Press Freedom Day, according to the Swedish chapter of PEN, an international writers group.
The Swedish Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that its diplomats were “horrified by the murder” of Ananta Bijoy Dash, who wrote about secularism and science for Free Mind, a website that the Bangladeshi-American blogger Avijit Roy ran before being killed in February by machete-wielding assailants in Dhaka, the capital. Islamist extremists took responsibility for Mr. Dash’s death, near his home in the northeastern city of Sylhet.
In a blistering statement released the same day, however, Swedish PEN revealed that Mr. Dash would have been in Stockholm this week as the group’s guest but that the Swedish Embassy in Dhaka denied him a visa.
We require a response from the Swedish Embassy in Dhaka regarding the murder of the blogger Ananta Bioy Dash: http://t.co/BMdCbQmeev
— Svenska PEN (@PENsweden) May 12, 2015
According to the writers’ group, the embassy, in an email rejecting Mr. Dash’s request, cited concerns that he might try to stay in Sweden, or another of the European Union countries known as the Schengen area. “You belong to a category of applicants where there is always a risk involved when granting a visa that you will not leave Schengen area after the visit,” the embassy wrote. “Furthermore, the purpose of your trip is not urgent enough to grant you visa.”
The Swedish Migration Agency confirmed to BBC News that it had rejected Mr. Dash’s request for a visa.
The writers’ group, which promotes literature and freedom of expression, said that with Mr. Dash’s killing it would demand further explanation from the embassy.
— Rayhan Rashid (@rayhanrashid) May 12, 2015
Mr. Dash, the third secularist blogger to have been killed in recent months, had also written a book about Charles Darwin, the activist Taslima Nasreen noted. In February, Mr. Dash posted a playful tribute to Darwin on his Facebook page.
As Global Voices reported, Mr. Dash’s killing was mourned online by free speech activists, and celebrated by Islamist extremists.
Secular activists rallied on the streets on Wednesday to demand that Mr. Dash’s killers be brought to justice.